Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 5 hours (left alone to simmer slowly)
- 1 whole chicken OR a chicken carcass + a pack of wings (your butcher may give you a carcass for free)
- 1 leeks (or one large one)
- 3 large carrots
- 2 onions (with skins on)
- 2 beef stock cubes (yes, believe us! It gives it oomph)
- 2 chicken stock cubes
- Salt & pepper
Optional (everyone has their preferences):
- 1 swede
- 1 stick celery
- A few sprigs of parsley
- A few bay leaves
- 8-10 peppercorns
- Ginger (a small knob of fresh or a good pinch of ground)
- Cinnamon (a good pinch of ground)
- A tomato (charred is better – hold it over an open flame with tongs, and turn to blacken)
- Get the biggest pan you can find, and put your chicken in it.
- Fill the pan ¾ full of cold water and bring to the boil, skimming off any scum that comes to the top of the pan.
- Meanwhile,wash and chop all your vegetables into big chunks – remember to keep the onion skins on for a wonderful colour and extra flavour to the soup. Peel the carrots and swede, and make sure you wash the leek properly (you can remove outer layer if you prefer).
- Add all the vegetables and stock cubes to the soup.
- Bring to the boil again, skim again, then cook on a low simmer on the hob for around five hours (keep on a low simmer to make sure it doesn’t boil away – you can also cover with foil first under the lid to slow down evaporation).
- When the cooking time is up, turn off the hob, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
- Sieve the soup into another container (to remove the chicken/veg and to assist the cooling process).
- You can return any cooked veg to the sieved soup if you wish (some prefer it clear).
- If you used a whole chicken or wings, pick off the meat and return to the soup if you wish.
- Stir the soup regularly to assist the cooling process (see food safety notes below).
- As soon as it has cooled enough, transfer to freezeable containers or ziplock bags, and refrigerate or freeze directly.
- Once chilled, a layer of fat may form at the top which you can simply scrape away before reheating.
- You can serve the soup as it comes, or add noodles (thin egg vermicelli) and/or Matzo balls (kneidles), a kind of dumpling. We use Telma Kneidl Matzo Ball Mix, widely available in supermarkets.
Although it's delicious served immediately, the soup is definitely better the next day.
Sharing your soup: food safety and hygiene
We often make batches of chicken soup to share with neighbours, colleagues, friends and family who are feeling unwell, or who need a nourishing ‘hug in a mug’. Why not do the same? If you do, please make sure you follow these food hygiene rules, and explain them to your recipients.
- When cooking the soup, please make sure to sanitise all work surfaces before starting, only use clean utensils, and wash hands thoroughly.
- Put the chicken directly into the pan, and dispose of the packaging without allowing any juices to drip. Wash hands directly after handling the raw chicken before touching anything else, and sanitise the work area if you suspect any contamination.
- Wash all vegetables very well.
- Chill as quickly as possible (to reduce time in the temperature danger-zone for microbial growth (between 8°C and 63°C).
- Please advise all recipients that they must store the soup properly (fridge or freezer) and that the soup will be safe for up to 4 days in the fridge, or up to 3 months in the freezer.
- When ready to eat, the soup must be brought up to a rolling boil (at least to above 70°C for a 2 minute duration).
Food safety advice from https://www.food.gov.uk/food-safety and https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/cold-food-storage-charts)